COLD SHOULDER

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Looking in the mirror, staring at my narrow hips, broad shoulders, and boyish body, I can’t help but envy the female figure. 

Since I was young, I've wished to have the same soft sensual curves whenever I grew up. Even just a bit here and there. I remember playing pretend with my cousins and I would always choose to be the badass Chun-Li or super sexy Mai Shiranui, whom both are known to have death defying curves.

While getting ready, I would always pull back whatever shirt I was wearing and search for a glimpse of a curve. And now, everywhere I go, I compare my shoulder, waist, and hip ratio to other females to find validation for my trans femme self. Like, “ok. I’m not too far off from that person and they’re a cis female.” 

My gender dysphoria has opened the doors for body dysmorphia. Lovely. 

A twist here, a twist there. I always try to pose and manipulate my body to create an illusion of narrower shoulders. I rarely use a photo of me straight on, as my “man-shoulders” are just so prominent. They skew my body proportions and distance my physique from the feminine form that I strongly desire. So I’m not exactly the biggest fan of them. They’re a reality check, which triggers my dysphoria, induces anxiety and creates a distaste against my body. 

I never felt completely comfortable and understood why I was in this body. 

These thoughts run through my mind on a daily basis, either in a Shinkansen form or an extremely delayed MTA subway that just won’t seem to move, forever lingering and miserable. 

Starting HRT (in the new year!) will hopefully help ease these turbulent thoughts with some physical changes. But I know that accepting and loving my body for what it is, is truly the best way to overcome. I’m working on it, as we all are, I’m sure. Something to add to the lifetime resolutions list!

x D

Top: Versace (similar here) | Jacket: Alexander Wang (similar here) | Skirt: Genuine People (similar here) | Shoes: Public Desire | Earrings: Eddie Borgo (similar here)

Photography by Clay Howard-Smith

PS. As Chun-Li, I always claimed Ryu as my boyfriend. He’s my childhood crush! I mean, look at those arms. 

PSS. Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best 2018!

TRANSFORMATION TUESDAY

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So much can change in a year, it’s kind of insane. To some, it may be scary-- and to others, hopeful.

I have evolved and learned so much about myself since I first started Derek Du Jour. It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around everything that’s happened and influenced me within the past year. Life is such a strange whirlwind.

It wasn’t until a little over a year ago that I could finally understand and identify my gender as non-binary. This has been so exciting and a relief after all these years, to finally be able to define and explain everything that’s been in my mind all in one word.

Yet… I still feel so lost.

As I learn more about gender, see other amazing queer people, and open emotional doors that were once shut closed by heteronormative society, I’ve been questioning my identity more and more. I’ve been dealing with gender dysphoria a lot lately. With memories of me as a child wishing I was female resurging, constant wants of being physically more feminine leading to mild body dysmorphia, and me no longer feeling content in my current state.

Physically, I’m not where I am mentally.

For cisgender people who are wondering how and why, it's extremely complicated-- and just be thankful you don’t have to deal with binary and gender related thoughts, activities, and labels every day. Simple tasks such as going to the bathroom, filling out an application, and pronoun usage induces so much anxiety.

As I continue to open these internal doors and further explore my mind, my style overall has “feminized” quite a bit since my inaugural post “Virtual Rebirth”. As happy as I am with my evolution, I still felt that something was missing. I don't know how to further explain this feeling, and everytime I attempt, my brain shuts down and is consumed with a grey haze. But after countless sleepless nights, remote café work sessions, and melancholy drifts, I've come to a conclusion to the mystery of the missing.

                                                      I’m pretty sure that…

                                              I want to start hormones.

The thought has been floating in my mind for a while now and it’s been hitting me harder and harder each and every time. It’s taken so much mental and emotional power for me to sort out all my internal thoughts from being raised in a heteronormative, cisgender world to really understand myself and get to this point. But to finally be so sure of this decision, life feels so much lighter and clearer.

Do I want to do a full female transition? That I'm not so sure of, and that's totally ok. Just to explain to those who are unaware, being transgender is a spectrum in itself, It’s such a broad term. One doesn’t have to fully transition to another sex, or mentally identify as the opposite binary to be trans. Identifying outside of your birth-given gender is valid. As of now, I still identify as non-binary, which currently feels right but who knows... that could change. Time will tell.

We all grow and learn at a different pace, so for those struggling and going through a similar situation, take your time. There’s no need to rush, no matter your age or what others may say.

One life knot slightly untangled. A billion more to go.
But hey, cheers to progress, self-love, and an open mind.

Baby steps.

x D

Bodysuit: Zara (Similar Here and Here) | Earrings: Mounser

Photography by Clay Howard-Smith

HUMAN TOGETHER

I'm not an "it," a "that," "nasty fag," I'm a human being. 

I've been experiencing a lot more hate and discrimination from the general public lately. The other day I was told I didn't belong in the men's bathroom. Another day, I was on a train full of field trip going teenagers where I was blatantly made fun and spoken ill of. Another day I'm told I'm a nasty thing, and mocked as a "fuck up." 

Perhaps this level of adversity has always been present, and I just haven't noticed? But regardless, I've been observing these negative actions to become more frequent. I always do my best to not let it bother me, but there are times when those backward minds and words eat at me, especially when I'm in a melancholy blackhole. 

I can't help but feel so upset and frustrated in regards to how people can be ok with hating and attacking one another, especially from other minority groups. 

Shouldn't we be in this together? 

I will never understand how humans can be so vulgar and hateful to one another due to differences in our race, nationality, sexuality, religion and gender. We're all here in this world for a reason, so why must we invalidate one another's existence and make equality such an ordeal? At the end of the day, regardless of our backgrounds, we all have one thing in common, we're all human. With emotions, feelings, aspirations, obstacles, families, and friends just like everyone else. 

With the rise of hate crimes due to an orange demon sitting in the White House, I just want to say something to all my fellow beautiful LGBTQ, gender nonconforming, misfits, outcasts, weirdos, aliens and unicorns, specifically the youth. 

Be nice and support one another, we're all here on this earth fighting for equality, acceptance and representation. There is already so much hate in this world, we don't need it within our own community. So throw the shade and cattiness aside and love each other, because that's what we all need the most, considering the amount of adversity, hate, and violence our people face on a daily basis. Being trans, non-binary, queer, "different" is hard, but we mustn't let the negativity of others get to us. We must be strong, not just for ourselves but also for our people. We can't give into the oppression and must continue to live and express ourselves fearlessly. As our existence and presence will only help educate those unaware of this sector of humanity, which FYI, has existed since the birth of mankind. We're stronger together and it's our duty to build a happy future not just for ourselves but for future generations. One day, gender and sexuality won't be an issue, I just know it. Maybe not in our lifetime but we still have to push. So til then, let's all just be human together. 

x D

Happy Pride month :) 
Sashay and strut with flying colors.

PS. This t-shirt is very special. The amazing Everlane has partnered up with the equally awesome Human Rights Campaign for pride month. 100% of sales will be going straight to the HRC, so they can continue to fight for a better future for all. So get a super soft and cool new tee and support a great cause at the same time. 

T-shirt: Everlane x Human Rights Campaign | Shorts: Vintage | Shoes: 3.1 Phillip Lim

Photography by Yvette Aispuro
Text Edited by Vitaly Usherenko

SAKURA DREAMING

Being surrounded by fresh sakura blossoms, the tree branches dancing with the spring breeze, and the sun peeking through the pink petals, fueling every object it hits with warmth and a smile (and twinkly star anime eyes)...

This was a scene I've romanticized, ever since I was a nerdy and anime obsessed adolescent (still am). Although it was cloudy and rainy for a majority of my time in Japan, the sakura was still just as beautiful, and at times even more romantic, causing my single heart to burst at the seams.

So yes, going to Japan in general was a big dream of mine, but to see the sakura as well? That was a whole other dream on a different level, one that I didn't think I was going accomplish so soon. It still feels surreal when I reminisce about all the beauty I witnessed, and as a jaded New Yorker, that says quite a lot. For those planning to go to Japan, I highly suggest going during cherry blossom season. Despite it being peak season for tourism, witnessing Japan's beautiful national flower only enriched my visit, supplying me with beautiful memories that I will remember forever.  

There are so many cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan, but here is a list of my favorite sakura spots that I got to see throughout my trip.

.TOKYO.

Meguro River
Meguro River was my favorite sakura spot; it was absolutely breathtaking. The stroll underneath the cherry blossom trees along the river felt like I was in sakura heaven! A vision that will forever be ingrained in my brain!
 
Happoen Garden
It’s actually a venue for newlyweds, but they open the garden to the public. As you stroll through the beautiful Japanese garden adorned with sakura, you’ll also see women in the most beautiful and ornate kimonos. Quite a sight to see!

.KYOTO.

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple
If you go here during peak seasons (spring and fall), you MUST catch the night illuminations they do for the temple and walking grounds. It was a breathtaking walk as I strolled through and past the beautiful red temples, surrounded by lit cherry blossom trees and the full moon radiating its soft glow.
 
Yasaka Shrine/Maruyama Park
After you walk through Yasaka Shrine, you will enter Maruyama Park, where not only the mother of all cherry blossom trees lives, but where you can also dine under its equally beautiful underlings, with food from the local vendors and a drink of your choice. It’s like dining in cherry blossom heaven!
 
Arashiyama
Along with the famous bamboo forest and monkey park, Arashiyama has so many areas with cherry blossom trees where you’ll see men and women in their yukatas scurrying around for pictures.

Kiyamachi street
Kiyamachi is the street to hit up on an evening in Kyoto, not just for the bars and restaurants but for the cherry blossom-lined street! Running along the Takase river, this street is a scene to see-- especially at night when the sakura are all lit up, creating a cinematic scenario straight out of a romance film.

x D 

P.S. Excuse my awkward hair, I'm currently growing it out and it's going to be in this weird phase for the next couple of months. 

Jacket: Zara (Similar Here & Here)  | Dress: Genuine People | Corset: Aritzia | Pants: Aritzia | Shoes: Schutz | Necklace: Are You Am I

Photography by Ayaka Horiuchi
Edited by Trace Otsuka